7. The Qing Dynasty ended the Imperial dynasties ruling China
The Qing Dynasty ruled an empire in China for nearly three centuries, from 1644 until the creation of the Republic of China in 1912. In terms of land area, it became the fourth largest in history. Multiethnic, with over fifty distinct ethnic groups within its borders, its leaders were Manchu, its efficient bureaucracy mostly Han. Throughout its existence it suffered from western attempts to establish influence and a sustained presence in China. Britain, France, the United States, Germany, the Russian Empire, and the Japanese, all exploited the Qing for various reasons.
Trade offered the primary golden ring for the westerners. The Opium Wars led to significant suffering in China, which was often plagued with poor harvests, or poor distribution of foodstuffs in good years. Rebellions and uprisings, often supported by the western powers (or opposed, depending on self-interests) ravaged the population. China expanded during the early Qing period, but by the end of the 19th century its power in the Korean Peninsula and Taiwan was stripped from it by Japan.
The Manchu leaders of the Qing Dynasty applied Confucian philosophy to their rule. New technologies, such as steam powered railroads, were often opposed through fear of their potential negative impact on feng shui. A railroad line built by the British connecting Shanghai with Woosung was destroyed by Qing officials in the mid-19th century for just such a reason. Not until late in the Qing period did the Chinese government attempt to build modern railroads, borrowing money from the French and British for their construction. In 1900, with European and American railroads entering their Golden Age, less than 300 miles of completed track existed in all of China. China’s undeveloped status under the Qing led to many of its humiliations in the first decades of the 20th century.